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University of Southern California Neighborhood Academic Initiative students graduate

University of Southern California Neighborhood Academic Initiative graduates are shown during their graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 9, 2013.
May 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A special group of area high school students are on their way to college, and it's all thanks to a unique program.

ABC7's own Alysha Del Valle was the mistress of ceremonies Thursday night for the University of Southern California Neighborhood Academic Initiative graduation.

The seven-year program helps low income, minority students living in the area surrounding the USC campus. It gives them a college-bound mindset, something life-changing for this year's 57 graduating scholars.

"My mom expressed to me growing up that college wouldn't be financially in our budget. So I knew that getting this USC scholarship would be a great burden lifted off of my family, off of my mom, and be a great accomplishment for me as a youth growing up," said Tristan Baizar, an Academic Initiative scholar.

Most of the students who make it through the Neighborhood Academic Initiative go to USC with a full scholarship. Others choose UCLA, Ivy League schools or even West Point.


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